Boeing has grounded all 128 of its 777 planes that are powered by the same engine as the one involved in a fire over a US city on Saturday.

The company said it recommended that the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777s powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines should be grounded until the US Federal Aviation Administration identifies the appropriate inspection protocol for the United Airlines incident. 

United, Asiana and Japan's two main airlines confirmed they had already suspended operations of 63 planes fitted with the same family of engine which scattered debris over Denver at the weekend.

The US National Transportation and Safety Board (NTSB) is also investigating the incident, in which no one was hurt. 

Boeing said similarly fitted planes should be taken out of service until the FAA had determined an inspection procedure."While the NTSB investigation is ongoing, we recommended suspending operations of the 69 in-service and 59 in-storage 777 aircraft powered by Pratt & Whitney 4000-112 engines," the company said.

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Japan Airlines (JAL) and All Nippon Airways (ANA) said they had respectively grounded 13 and 19 planes using PW4000 engines but had avoided flight cancellations by using other aircraft.

The Japanese transport ministry said it had ordered stricter inspections of the engine after a JAL 777 plane flying from Haneda to Naha experienced trouble with "an engine in the same family" in December.

United said it had voluntarily removed 24 Boeing 777 planes from service and expected "only a small number of customers to be inconvenienced".

South Korea's transport ministry said it had no immediate plans to ground planes, adding it was monitoring the situation.

But Asiana Airlines, the country's second-largest carrier, said it would not fly any of its seven currently operational 777s. 

"We are still waiting for instructions from South Korea's transport ministry on inspections but we are taking preemptive measures by gradually switching aircraft," a spokesman said.

Flag carrier Korean Air added it was awaiting an official directive from South Korean regulators "and will follow the directions once confirmed".

The FAA had earlier ordered extra inspections of some passenger jets.

Steve Dickson, the head of the regulator, said he had consulted with experts and that some airplanes would "likely" be removed from service.

"I have directed them to issue an Emergency Airworthiness Directive that would require immediate or stepped-up inspections of Boeing 777 airplanes equipped with certain Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engines," he said in a statement.

Mr Dickson added that a preliminary safety data review pointed to a need for additional checks of the jet engine's fan blades, which were unique to the engine model and only used on 777 planes. 

Officials from the FAA were met Pratt & Whitney and Boeing representatives yesterday evening, he added.

Engine failure shortly after departure

Flight UA328 had been headed from Denver to Honolulu when it experienced an engine failure shortly after departure. 

Residents in the Denver suburb of Broomfield found large pieces of the plane scattered around their community.

No one onboard or on the ground was injured. 

But the engine failure marks a fresh blow for Boeing after several high-profile aviation accidents.

The manufacturer's 737 MAX was grounded worldwide in March 2019 after 346 people died in two crashes, the 2019 Lion Air disaster in Indonesia and an Ethiopian Airlines crash the following year.

Investigators said a main cause of both crashes was a faulty flight handling system known as the Maneuvering Characteristics Augmentation System, or MCAS.

Boeing was forced to revamp the system and implement new pilot training protocols.

The 737 MAX was a big hit with airlines, becoming Boeing's fastest-selling aircraft until its grounding, which has now been lifted. 

After the Covid-19 crisis decimated demand, airlines canceled hundreds of orders for the plane.

Netherlands investigation launched into 747 incident

Meanwhile, an incident involving a Boeing 747-400 cargo plane that dropped engine parts shortly after take-off from Maastricht airport on Saturday is under investigation, the Dutch Safety Board said.

The Longtail Aviation cargo plane scattered mostly small metal parts over the southern Dutch town of Meerssen, causing damage to cars and lightly injuring one woman, local media said.

"Our investigation is still in a preliminary phase, it is too early to draw conclusions," a spokeswoman for the Dutch Safety Board said.

A part of the engine landed in the roof of a car at a garage in Utrecht (Pic: EPA/Pierre Geusens)

Witnesses said they saw fire in one of the engines of the plane, which landed safely at Liege airport in Belgium, some 30km south of Maastricht.

The Boeing cargo flight, which was supposed to fly from the Netherlands to New York, used a Pratt & Whitney PW4000 engine, a smaller version of one on the United Airlines Boeing 777.